What Exactly Is A Skilled Trade?

  • What Makes a Job a Skilled Trade?

    OKLAHOMA CITY - February 07, 2020




    Skilled Trades And Your Future Job

    There's been a lot of talk in the last few years about the importance of skilled trades in the economy. Most notably, 2-7-2020-Skills in reinforcing the benefits of learning a skilled trade to younger people as they think about the work they want to do after school. But what exactly defines a skilled trade? And why is this category receiving such a focused attention and what options do they offer for your future? 

    Specialized Training is the Key

    At the most basic level, a skilled trade is any job that requires a specialized skill, usually obtained through a technical school, college, or on-the-job training through an apprenticeship or internship. Typically, skilled trades don't require a four-year degree, but some may require a specific certification or license earned through a school or state agency.

    Most of the time, you'll see skilled trades broken down into three categories, with a variety of jobs in each category.

    • Industrial:  welders, fabricators, machinist, pipefitters
    • Construction:  electricians, cement and concrete finishers, drywall, carpentry
    • Motive Power:  engine mechanics, electrical systems technicians, heavy duty equipment repair paint and body technicians
    • Transportation:  commercial drivers, heavy equipment operators
    • Services:  hair stylist, property and building maintenance, electronic service technician, field technician, dental assistants, computer repair technicians, kennel assistance, and chefs


    More Than Welders and Plumbers

    If you read the above list of jobs that fall under the title "skilled trade" and were surprised by a few, you aren't alone. 

    For most of the past 20 years, many people thought skilled trades equated to welders, plumbers, electricians, mechanics, and other jobs that involve manual labor in sometimes difficult working conditions. But the reality is that every skilled trade isn't a physically exhausting job, and not every manual labor job is a skilled trade. In fact, many jobs actually blur the lines between traditional definitions of white collar and blue collar

    Skilled trades are defined by the knowledge, education, and skills involved. That's why many service professionals fall into the skilled trades category, alongside jobs that include computer support specialists and website developers.

    As technology continues to become more and more prevalent across every industry, even those careers that have traditionally been more manual in nature will require specialized training and education. 

    Potential for More

    One common thread for skilled trades is the ability of employees to work outside the traditional business structure. After a few years working of learning the trade and gaining experience and connections in industry, there's nothing stopping a plumber, welder, or nurse from working independently or starting their own business. 

    So, if setting your own schedule or the prospect of starting something on your own gets you motivated and ready for the challenges ahead, a skilled trade may just be the right path for you. Whether it's becoming an independent plumber, traveling nurse, or starting your own website development business, choosing a skilled trade can provide many paths for career happiness and success. 

    Express Employment Professionals places more than 552,000 job seekers annually in a variety of positions. Contact one of our 800 locally-owned Express offices today to learn more about opportunities available with the more than 83,000 client companies we work with each year.

    Express also offers a free educational video series on selecting a career path and succeeding in that role. To access this resource visit YouTube and search Job Genius or visit ExpressPros.com/JobGenius.